Tag Archives: Yunmen’s two sicknesses

Narrator – On foot through France 2


On my hike through France, I met many people. I stood out by my dark skin; there were no other Maasai/Indian walkers on our way. In the Jura, people were dismissive at first sight: I was strange, unknown and obscure. But almost all fellow walkers thawed by my smile and with a friendly greeting in the French language. The farmers were more suspicious. This is understandable because they had to defend their homes against a dark unknown stranger.

[1]

Eventually I met much hospitality on the road. With two fellow travellers I walked several days to the North. We saw several cairns as guardians along our path. At one cairn we decided to have our lunch. One of my companions wondered how many people had placed stones here. The other asked where the people were now. I replied: “In any case we are here”. Then we had to laugh. While I drank water, I was wondering where all the sages of the past remained. Suddenly I felt clearly that we were directly connected with the people who had piled stones here and with all sages from the past [2]. We lived our life directly in the footsteps of the others.

[3]

The next night I dreamed the dream that I regularly dreamed after the fire in the forest during the night where my fellow militia members and I had massacred a village. In this dream the flames came toward me together with the ghosts of the villagers. They started to engulf me. My skin was already blackened by the flames and I began to lose myself in the ghosts of the villagers.

[4]

At the moment they were threatening to devour me, I awoke; I was all sweaty and I breathed heavily. When I opened my eyes, I saw the Moon and the starry sky as reassurance. The night sky slowly brought me back to life as in the Maasai myth the god Engaï brought the Moon to life each night [5].

[6]

The night after the cairn, that dream proceeded in the same way, but the moment I woke up terrified, the sky was completely cloudy. The moon and the stars could not offer me any consolation. Everything was pitch dark and I heard only a quick loud painful breathing; my chest moved violently. Terrified I asked myself: “What breath is there? [7]”. First I thought that the breath of the ghosts of the villagers had come back to life inside me. Therefor I dared not stop panting because, I was afraid that my breath would be carried away with the spirits when they disappeared in the dark.

Slowly my breath calmed down and I came to rest. In the darkness I promised the dead villagers that from now on my breath was their breath. I promised that my breath – as long as I lived – would be a temporal home for them. Once I hoped to arrive home together with them. After this, the dream returned less often.

I was on my way to Amsterdam – my new home for the time being.


[1] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Maison_typique_du_Jura_2.jpg

[2] See also koan “Attendant Huo passes tea” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 60 – 62

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steenmannetje

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildfire

[5] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_sterrennacht

[7] This is the last question in the koan “Yunmen’s two sicknesses”. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 46 – 50. See also: Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan, The hazy moon of enlightenment. Somersville: Wisdom Publications, 2007 p. 21 – 27

Narrator – Away from Rome


In Rome I had recovered the heaven on earth from my childhood. That autumn and winter I was totally absorbed in this city. However, the following spring I left this heaven on earth. Looking back on my life, it would have been better if I had stayed in Rome.

Much later in books I read an explanation for my departure: “When the light doesn’t  penetrate completely, there are two kinds of sickness. One sickness is when not everything is clear and there is still something in front of you to achieve. The second sickness is when you live in heaven and your clinging to heaven is not forgotten. Even completely in heaven, the question remains: “What breath is there?” – this too is sickness [1]”.

Although I was perfectly happy in Rome, I still suffered on both forms of sickness. I imagined myself in heaven, but my existence was still not clear. Also the command of my mother to start a new life in the city of Amsterdam was looming in my heart. And my craving for happiness subsisted in Rome. The healing of the sickness caused by the question “What breath is there?” began during our Odyssey “Who are you”.

[2]

In early spring, I gave substance to the command of my mother to start a new life in the city of Amsterdam where men may love men. I left my heaven on earth.

I started my foot trip from Rome to Amsterdam with a small backpack and some money for food. In Italy, I visited the cities of Siena [3] and Florence [4] where I enjoyed the museums and the beautiful buildings. In both cities, I stayed a short time with lovers; my exotic appearance wafted through these cities. After more than two months walking, I reached Northern Italy. Here I left behind the golden glow of my half year in Italy.

At my arrival in Aosta, the weather was inclement and the mountains were threatening in the distance. I could find no place to sleep. I watched the whole night under a cloudy sky with lots of rain.

[5]

The next day the weather brightened and I dried myself in the sun. I walked through the Aosta Valley via Courmayeur [6] to the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel. For the first time I saw a white snowy mountain range. I had never seen such a wonderful bright world. This enchanting world was the antitype of my origin and my existence until now.

[7]

By truck I was smuggled via the Mont Blanc tunnel to France; this caused no problems. I dared not to cross the border with my travel documents, because my visa was only valid for the Netherlands.

In Chamonix just over the French border, the tops of the mountains looked like the teeth of a monster. This was not my world. With the train I left the Valley of Chamonix.

[8]

In France I followed the GR 5 hiking trail to the North.


[1] This is a shortened and very free rendering of the koan: “Yunmen’s two sicknesses”. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 46 – 50. See also: Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan, The hazy moon of enlightenment. Somersville: Wisdom Publications, 2007 p. 21 – 27

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_(stad)

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siena

[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aosta

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courmayeur

[7] Source image: Photo by Matthieu Riegler via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mont_Blanc_depuis_Valmorel.jpg

[8] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamonix-Mont-Blanc